Ride-hailing app Uber halts its licensed service in Greece

Ride-hailing app Uber halts its licensed service in Greece

The ride-hailing app Uber announced Thursday that it would be suspending its licensed services in Greece from next Tuesday, reacting to new laws passed last month that restrict its operations.

The move relates to the service UberX, which uses professional licensed drivers, not to UberTaxi, which uses local taxi drivers and which Uber said it would seek to continue with.

“We have to assess if and how we can operate within this new framework and so will be suspending UberX in Athens from next Tuesday until we can find an appropriate solution,” the company said in a statement Thursday.

“We hope to work with all local stakeholders to find a way to enable Greeks to enjoy the benefits of modern technologies like Uber,” the statement added.

More than 450,000 locals and tourists in Greece have used the Uber app since the company launched in the country in 2015, it said, adding that it would do “everything we can to support the partners and drivers who have relied on our app over the past few years.”

The announcement follows legislation that was approved in Greece’s Parliament last month restricting ride-hailing apps like Uber in the wake of vehement protests by Greek taxi drivers.

Early last month, groups of Greek cabbies stopped Uber drivers in the streets of central Athens and vandalized their cars, warning them to stop working for the ride-hailing app.

Transport Minister Christos Spirtzis issued a stern response Thursday to the news about Uber.

“For someone to leave Greece they have to have a base here, to be taxed here – Uber has nothing,” he remarked.

Thymios Lymberopoulos, the head of the Attica taxi drivers’ union, who had threatened that cabbies would “take the law into their own hands” if legislation giving Uber greater access to the market was passed, welcomed the development.

“Whoever doesn’t honor the law should leave,” he said.

Meanwhile dozens of drivers who have worked for Uber in Athens gathered outside the offices of the Transport Ministry to protest the bill that prompted Uber’s departure.

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